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74th Highlanders
1853-1873


ORDERS having been received that the 74th should hold itself in readiness to proceed to India, all the outlying detachments joined headquarters at Fort Beaufort. The regiment set out on November 10, 1853, to march for Port Elizabeth, where it arrived on the 18th, and from which, on the 20th, the headquarters and right wing were conveyed to Cape Town, where they embarked on hoard the freight-ship "Queen."

The "Queen" sailed from Table Bay on the 25th of November, and arrived at Madras on the 12th of January 1854. The 74th was destined to remain in India for the next ten years, during which time the movements of its various detachments were exceedingly complicated, and are difficult to follow even with the aid of a good map. Indeed, few regiments, we are sure, have been more broken up into small detachments than was the 74th, during its services at the Cape, and for the greater part of the time that it remained in India; for eight years from 1850, when the regiment was at Fermoy, in Ireland, it was broken up into small detachments, and it was only on the repeated petition of the commanding-officer to the War Office authorities that, in 1858, all the companies once more found themselves together: this was at Bellary, in the Madras Presidency, where headquarters had been stationed for some time.

After the arrival of headquarters and the right wing at Madras, the regiment was joined by a detachment from England, under Captain Jago. After headquarters had been about a week at Madras, it, along with four companies, re-embarked, on January 19, for Negapatarn, about 180 miles further south, where it arrived next day, and remained till the 24th, when it set out to march for Trichinopoly, which it reached on the 2nd of February.

On the 7th of February a detachment, under Captain Brydon, consisting of 4 officers and 205 men, proceeded to Jackatalla (now Wellington, about ten miles south of Ootakamund, in the Neelgherri Hills), there to be stationed for the purpose of assisting in the building of barracks at that place.

Captain Jago, with the two companies which had been left at Madras, joined headquarters on the 13th, and a small detachment from England, under Lieutenant Davies, landed at Madras on the 13th, and arrived at Trichinopoly on the 27th of February.

The left wing of the service companies, which had left Cape Town some time after the rest of regiment, landed at Madras on the 19th of February, and embarked for Tranquebar. This detachment, on its march from Tranquebar to Trichinopoly, was unfortunately attacked by cholera, and lost 3 sergeants, 2 corporals, and 15 privates.

The headquarters marched for Jackatalla on the 15th of March, and arrived there on the 30th, having left a detachment at Trichinopoly, consisting of 2 captains, 5 subalterns, 1 assistant-surgeon, 10 sergeants, 4 drummers, and 220 rank and file, under command of Major Hancock, who was relieved of the command by Lieutenant-Colonel Monkland on the 3rd of April.

It would be tedious to follow the movements of the various detachments of the regiment in the performance of the ordinary routine duties which devolve on the British soldier when stationed in India. The headquarters remained at Jackatalla—where it was gradually joined by the various detachments which remained at Trichinopoly—till 1857. At frequent intervals during this time, and while the regiment remained in India, it was joined by detachments of recruits from the depôt companies at home, and by volunteers from other regiments in India—it being a common custom, when a regiment was ordered home, to allow those of the men who wished to remain in India to volunteer into other regiments. If we may judge from the large detachments which the 74th received in this way, it must have had a very high reputation among the other regiments of Her Majesty stationed in India. Among the other additions which the 74th received while at Jackatalla was one which was made by Her Majesty’s gracious pleasure, much, no doubt, to the gratification of the regiment, and one which to a Highland regiment is of no mean importance. The addition we refer to consisted of 1 pipe-major and 5 pipers, who joined in May 1854, and whose strains, no doubt, served often to remind the many Highlanders in the regiment of their homes far away in dear old Scotland. This accession was in addition to a pipe-major and a piper for each company, which have always been maintained in the regiment, and dressed at the expense of the officers.

In November of the same year that the regiment received the above important addition, it was inspected by Major-General J. Wheeler Cleveland, commanding the Southern Division, who, in a division order afterwards issued, expressed himself in complimentary and justly merited terms towards this distinguished regiment.

Colonel Macduff, having been appointed a brigadier of the 2nd class, and ordered to assume the command of the provinces of Malabar and Canara, handed over command of the regiment to Captain Brydon on the 7th of February 1855,—Lieutenant-Colonel Monkland, the next senior officer, having proceeded to Bangalore on sick-leave. But Captain and Brevet-Major Robert Bruce having joined, from leave of absence, on the 28th of February, assumed command of the regiment, and was relieved on the 9th of April by Lieutenant-Colonel Monkland.

A wing of the regiment having been ordered to relieve the 25th (King’s Own Borderers) Regiment—132 volunteers from which joined the 74th—at Cannanoor, a detail of 8 officers, 1 surgeon, 13 sergeants, 16 corporals, 6 drummers, 3 pipers, and 304 privates, under command of Captain Jago, marched from headquarters on the 14th of February, and arrived at Cannanoor on the 1st of March, having en route detached No. 5 Company, under Captain Augustus Davies, to Malliapooram. The wing thus stationed at Cannanoor, on the Malabar coast, had to furnish so many strong detachments to the provinces of Malabar and Canara that it was necessary frequently to reinforce it from headquarters, as well as from England, so that very soon the number of companies at headquarters was reduced to four, the other six being with the left wing.

The 24th of May, being the anniversary of the birth of Her Most Gracious Majesty, was selected by the Hon. Mrs George Anson for presenting a stand of new colours to the regiment. His Excellency Lieutenant-General the Honourable George Anson, Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army, and the staff of the Most Noble the Governor-General of India, the Marquis of Dalhousie, and a large concourse of spectators, were to be present, but the Governor-General was unfortunately prevented by illness from attending.

The new colours having been consecrated by the Rev. John Ruthven Macfarlane, the chaplain of the regiment, were handed to Lieutenants R. H. D. Lowe and H. B. Wolrige (the two senior subalterns present) by the Honourable Mrs Anson, who, in doing so, mentioned the various services of the regiment in a most complimentary manner; and His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, after the review, was pleased to express himself in the most flattering terms with regard to the gallantry, efficiency, soldier-like bearing, and good conduct of the regiment.

In the month of September, the detachment stationed at Malliapooram, under the command of Captain Augustus Davies, was employed against some insurgent Moplahs in the neighbourhood, who had murdered Mr Conolly, Collector of Malabar, and in an affair on the 17th of that month 1 private was killed and 1 wounded.

During the performance of this duty a very remarkable incident occurred which is well worth putting on record. Captain Davies’ company having been sent in quest of the Moplahs, came upon them, after a hot midday march of about eight or ten miles, at the house of a high caste Nair, which they had taken possession of after murdering the servant who had been left in charge. The house was no sooner surrounded by the soldiers than the Moplahs rushed forth, fired what arms they possessed at the 74th, killing a private; they then attacked the men with the Moplah war-knives. All the Moplahs were speedily despatched, not, however, before one of them had attacked Private Joseph Park, who transfixed the Moplah through the chest with his bayonet. The Moplah thereupon, although mortally wounded, seized the muzzle of Park’s firelock—for the 74th was still armed with the old Brown Bess— and with a fierce blow of his war-knife, whilst still transfixed with the bayonet, cut Park’s throat almost from ear to ear. Staggered with the blow, the firelock dropped from Park’s hands, and the Moplah fell dead at his feet. After hovering between life and death for some weeks, Park ultimately recovered.

Colonel Macduff, having been relieved from the provinces of Malabar and Canara by the return of Brigadier Brown, rejoined headquarters, and assumed command of the regiment on the 31st of January 1856, and Lieutenant-Colonel Monkland proceeded to Cannanoor for the purpose of assuming command of the left wing. On the 14th of November, however, Colonel Macduff, as senior officer in the Presidency, having been ordered to proceed to Bellary as acting Brigadier in place of Colonel Brown of the 43d Foot, who had died, the command of the headquarters devolved upon Lieutenant-Colonel Monkland, who, however, retained it only a few weeks, as Colonel Macduff, haying been relieved from the command of the Bellary Brigade by Colonel Pole, 12th Lancers, his senior, returned to headquarters at Jackatalla, and reassumed the command of the regiment on the 6th of February.

On the 16th of February 1857 notification of the appointment of Lieutenant-General Shawe to the colonelcy of the regiment, in place of Lieutenant-General Thomson, was received by the regiment.

During all this time, of course, the regular half-yearly inspection was made by Major General Cleveland, who on every occasion was able to express himself perfectly satisfied with the state of the regiment.

On the 12th of April 1857, Enfield rifles were first issued to a portion of the regiment in accordance with the instructions from home directing their partial introduction into the army as an experiment.

On the 22d of July, in accordance with instructions received, the right wing and headquarter companies proceeded en route to Bangalore by Mysore; but on arriving at the latter place, their destination having been changed to Bellary (with the exception of 150 men, who, under command of Captain Falconer, followed by marches in charge of the families and baggage), the regiment was pushed on by transit to that station, Government being apprehensive of a rising among the Rajah’s zemindars in the Mahratta country. As the sequel shows, the services of the regiment were soon called into requisition. A movable column having been formed under the command of Brigadier Whitlock, the grenadier company, made up to 100 men immediately on its arrival, proceeded on the 12th of August to join the force by way of Kurnool; and as soon as the arrival of the detachment under Captain Falconer, above referred to, rejoined headquarters on the 30th, the light company, also made up to 100 men, proceeded to join the column. These companies were all armed with the Enfield rifle—the right wing, on passing through Bangalore, having been furnished with this weapon. These two companies being on field service, and a wing of six companies being at Cannanoor, the headquarters of the regiment at Bellary was reduced to a skeleton of two weak companies.

On the 16th of September, Colonel Macduff being appointed Brigadier of the 2nd class on the permanent establishment of the Presidency, the command of the corps again devolved upon Colonel Monkland, at this time in command of the left wing at Cannanoor, but who now assumed the command at headquarters. On the following day a letter, considerably augmenting the establishment of the regiment, was received; and on the 29th the headquarters, consisting of the two attenuated companies above referred to, was inspected by Major-General Donald Macleod, commanding the ceded districts, who on the occasion expressed himself satisfied with everything that came under his notice.

Instructions having been received for the left wing at Cannanoor to join headquarters at Bellary, on the arrival of the 66th Foot at that station from England, the various detachments rejoined the wing, and the whole six companies marched, under the command of Captain Jago, on the 12th of January 1858, having all been furnished with the new Enfield rifle. The wing arrived at Bellary in daily batches by the 20th of February.

The regiment having been scattered in detachments, the medals which it had so honourably won in the Kaffir war of 1851-53 had not been presented to many of the men; therefore, upon the six companies joining headquarters, Lieutenant-Colonel Monkland took an early opportunity of distributing to the meritorious those rewards for their distinguished conduct during that trying campaign.

Intimation having been received that the Rajah of Sholapoor was in arms against the Government, the two companies of the regiment, with Brigadier Whitlock, previously referred to, were detached to Sholapoor, at the storm and capture of which, on the 8th and 9th of February, they were present and took a prominent part.

On the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of March, the regiment being, by good fortune, all together for a brief period, with the exception of two companies, Nos. 1 and 10, on field service, Major-General Donald Macleod again inspected it, and was pleased, as previously, to express himself much gratified with the discipline and interior economy of the regiment, as well as with its appearance on parade.

The day following the inspection, the 15th of March 1858, a detachment, under Captain Falconer, consisting of 2 captains, 4 subalterns, 1 staff-officer, 12 sergeants, 12 corporals, 3 pipers, and 280 privates, proceeded on field-service to the southern Mahratta country, being placed at the disposal of the Bombay Government, and being ultimately stationed at Darwar.

On the 28th of May, a petty rajah or zemindar having taken possession of the Fort of Kopál, a field force from Bellary was immediately put in motion—No. 9 Company, under Captain Menzies, composing the European infantry with the force. Major Hughes, deeming it politic to nip in the bud this outbreak before it spread further in the Madras Presidency, pushed on the force as quickly as possible by forced marches, and arrived before Kopâl on the 31st. The fort was stormed and recaptured on the 1st of June by No. 9 Company, which formed the storming party on the occasion, having 1 sergeant and 6 privates wounded, one of the latter dying on the 5th.

The same day on which the storm and capture of Kopál took place, Companies 2 and 6, under Captain Davies, having been, by direction of the Bombay Government, detached from the contingent stationed at Darwar, proceeded to Noorgoond, and stormed and captured the fort of that name, on which occasion only 1 private was wounded.

Government being apprehensive that the rebel leader, Tantêa Topee, was endeavouring to enter the Deccan and incite the Mahrattas, a field force under the command of Brigadier Spottiswood of the 1st Dragoon Guards, who had temporarily succeeded Brigadier Macduff in command of the Bellary Brigade, marched from Bellary on the 9th of November. The force consisted of the 74th Highlanders, 47th Regiment Native Infantry, one battery of Royal Artillery, 5th Light Cavalry, and one regiment of Mysore Horse. It proceeded by way of Kurnool to Hyderabad, arriving there on the 3rd of December. This force remained fully equipped and ready to move on any point until the 21st of January 1859, when it was broken up and taken on the strength of the Hyderabad subsidiary force. The 74th left Hyderabad on February 3rd, and reached Bellary on the 22nd of the same month.

Shortly before this, Major-General Macleod left his district, and it must be exceedingly gratifying to the 74th that an officer of his penetration, knowledge, and honesty of speech, felt himself able to issue an order so highly complimentary as the following, dated "Headquarters, Ceded Districts, October 8th. 1858:"—

"The Major-General thanks Colonel Monkland for the excellent state of discipline and good behaviour of the men of the 74th Highlanders while the regiment remained at Bellary. The conduct of the men has been strikingly correct. A single case of irregularity in any soldier’s conduct out of quarters has never been observed. . . . As the Major-General thinks it probable that during his period of command he will not again have the troops composing the column under his orders, he deems it right to express his high opinion of those composing it, and feels confident that opportunity is only wanting to prove that the Bellary column is second to none on field-service."

It was at this time that, at the repeated request of the commanding officer, the whole regiment was reunited at Bellary, where the strength of the regiment was found to be as follows:—1 colonel, 2 lieutenant-colonels, 2 majors, 10 captains, 14 lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 6 staff, 55 sergeants, 44 corporals, 20 drummers, 6 pipers, 942 rank and file, being a total of 1067; and on the 14th of June a draft of 16 recruits joined headquarters from England.

The period of service, under the "Limited Service Act" (of June 1847), of many of the men having long expired, and the country being considered quiet, authority for the discharge of such as desired it having been received, the regiment lost a large number of its best soldiers, and by the end of 1859 was considerably reduced in numbers.

Colonel Macduff—the division under Major-General Whitlock, including the 2nd Infantry brigade which he commanded, having been broken up—returned to Bellary, and assumed the command of the brigade at that station, having been repeatedly, during his absence on field-service, successfully engaged against the rebels.

There is but little to record out of the even tenor of the regiment’s way from this time until it embarked for England in 1864. The 74th was of course regularly inspected every half-year by the superior officer whose duty it was to do so; and invariably a good report was given, not only of the discipline and bearing of the men, their knowledge of their business, and their smart; and soldierly appearance, but also of their personal cleanliness, and the excellent interior economy of the regiment, and of the unanimity and good feeling that existed among all its ranks. Indeed, the terms in which Major-General Coffin, whose duty it was at this time frequently to inspect the regiment, spoke of the character and efficiency of the 74th, were such that Colonel Villiers seems to have been afraid that the men would be spoiled by so much praise, and in a regimental order of November 1860 sincerely hopes the high encomiums passed by the Major-General may not lead either officers or men to rest satisfied with the present state of the efficiency of their corps, but act as an additional incentive to renewed exertion on the part of every one concerned to render perfect what is now in their estimation considered good.

In a letter dated Horse Guards, 27th of March 1860, it is intimated that "the small amount of crime has been specially remarked by the Duke of Cambridge."

During this period some important changes took place among the superior officers of the regiment. Lieutenant-Colonel Monkland, who had been with the regiment since first he entered the army, exchanged in November 1859 to half-pay, with Lieutenant-Colonel James Villiers, who joined regimental headquarters from England in February 1860. This latter officer, however, was not destined to be long connected with the regiment, as he had the misfortune to be cut off by brain fever at Ramdroog on May 10, 1862.

The senior Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment, Major-General (local rank) John Macduff, C.B., commanding the Oudh division of the Bengal Presidency, had been placed on half-pay on the 24th of January of this year, the date of his appointment to the Bengal staff, and the supernumerary Lieutenant-Colonelcy was thereby absorbed.

On the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Villiers, Major William Kelty Macleod, who had been in temporary command since that officer’s departure on leave of absence on the 23rd of March, succeeded to the command, Colonel Patton being absent in command of a brigade at Thagetmyo in Burmah.

The depôt of the regiment was during this period stationed at Aberdeen, and sent out frequent detachments of recruits to supply the deficiencies created in the service companies by men who left on the expiry of their term, and by the numerous batches of invalids whom it was found necessary to send home for the sake of their health.

A pattern dress bonnet had been supplied to the companies at Aberdeen in 1861 on trial, but not having been found durable, a new pattern was designed by Captain Palmer, commanding the depót, and submitted by him to the clothing department for the approval of His Royal Highness the General Commanding-in-Chief, who was pleased to direct a letter to be sent to Captain Palmer, thanking him for his suggestion, and directing the pattern to be sealed and adopted by the regiment as its future head-dress.

The Indian mutiny medals having been received for the officers and men of the regiment who were engaged at the capture of the forts of Shorapoor, Noorgoond, and Kopal in 1858, they were presented at Bellary, in presence of the division, on the 23rd of September (being the sixtieth anniversary of the victory of Assaye), by Major-General Armstrong, commanding the ceded districts. He addressed the regiment in the following terms :—

"Major Macleod, officers, and men of the 74th Highlanders,—This is the anniversary of a memorable day in the annals of your regiment, and consequently I have selected it to perform a duty most agreeable to myself; that is, to present in the presence of the assembled division the medals to so many officers and men of your distinguished regiment with which Her Most Gracious Majesty, our beloved Queen, has been pleased to reward the good and gallant services and conduct of her troops during the recent disturbances in Bengal and other parts of India. But before fulfilling this duty, I feel called upon to say a few words to you."

Major-General Armstrong then glanced rapidly at all the brilliant services performed by the 74th Highlanders, from Assaye to the Indian Mutiny, concluding as follows:— "Bravery is the characteristic of the British soldier, but the 74th Highlanders possesses also another claim to distinction, such as in all my long service I have never seen surpassed, and which has justly obtained for the regiment a high reputation—I mean that very best criterion of the good soldier, steady good conduct, obedience to orders, and the most perfect discipline at all times, whether in camp or quarters. You have now served in this division under my command for a year and a half, and it is particularly gratifying to me to be the medium of presenting so many of you with medals, honourable tokens of your service to your country, and the approbation of your Queen."

The medals were then fastened on the left breast of the officers and men by the General, assisted by several ladies, after which General Armstrong spoke again as follows :— "I am quite sure there is not a man now wearing the decoration just fixed upon your breasts that will hereafter willingly be guilty of any act to tarnish this token of your Sovereign’s favour. Long may you live, one and all, to wear the honours you have won! I greatly regret to think that the time is rapidly approaching when I shall lose the 74th Regiment from my command on its return to England. Many of you, no doubt, will volunteer in other regiments in India, and you may be assured that every well-conducted man will find a good recommendation to his new corps in his having served in a regiment possessing the high reputation of the 74th Highlanders. But others will be returning with the regiment to your native land, whither, if my life is spared, I may follow you at no distant period, when I hope to beat up the quarters of the regiment, and if so, I trust to see many of the medals I have this day presented to you still decorating the ranks of the corps. It will always be to me a proudly gratifying recollection that a regiment so gallant, so well behaved, and in every way distinguished, has served under my command.

"Major Macleod, and officers of the 74th, you may well feel a pride in your Highlanders. I trust that you, Major Macleod, will long be permitted to retain the command of them—a command which you have so ably and efficiently exercised for the advantage of the service, and the happiness and well. being of all ranks during the whole period the regiment has been under my orders."

On the 1st of January 1864, 261 men who had volunteered to other corps in the Madras Presidency, were struck off the strength of the regiment; and on the 4th of the same month the regiment marched from Bellary en route to Madras, where it arrived on the 13th of February, and was ordered to encamp till the vessels were ready to convey it to England.

While in camp cholera broke out, and several deaths having occurred, the camp was at once removed to Palaveram, where, happily, the disease disappeared.

On the 7th of March the regiment proceeded to Madras and embarked for England—the headquarters and right wing under Major Jago (Major Macleod having been permitted to proceed to England by the overland route), and the left wing under Captain Thackeray.

On the 19th of June, the headquarters reached Spithead, where orders were received for the vessel to proceed to Gravesend, on arrival at which place the wing was transhipped, without landing, to the "Princess Royal" steamer, and proceeded to Leith, disembarking at Granton Pier on the 24th of June, and marching to Edinburgh Castle, there to be stationed. The left wing did not reach Edinburgh till the 29th of July, having been delayed at St Helena by the illness of the commander of the "Hornet."

Brevet-Colonel Patton, who had gone home from India on sick leave some weeks previously, joined headquarters on the 25th of June, and assumed the command; but on the 9th of September he retired upon half-pay, and Major Macleod was promoted to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the regiment.

The movements of the regiment, from its arrival in Edinburgh up to the year 1873, may be very briefly recorded, as there is but little to tell except its movements from one quarter to another. Its stay in Edinburgh was very brief, for in less than a year after its arrival, on May 1, 1865, it re-embarked at Granton for Portsmouth en route for Aldershot, where it arrived on the evening of the 4th. The 74th left behind its old colours, which were deposited in the armoury of Edinburgh Castle.

After a stay at Aldershot of a few months, the regiment got short notice to proceed to Dover, which it did on February 20, 1866, the admirable manner in which it turned out eliciting the special commendation of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief. On its arrival at home, the strength of the regiment was of course considerably reduced, and in April 1866 it was still further reduced by two companies, the new establishment consisting of only 640 privates, with a proportionate number of officers and non-commissioned officers.

After a stay of six months at Dover, the 74th was ordered to Ireland, arriving at Cork, whence it proceeded to Limerick, where it stayed till September 26, 1867, on which day it went by rail to Dublin, where it occupied Richmond barracks. While at Limerick, detachments had been told off to do duty at Clare Castle and Nenagh. In consequence of Fenian riots, flying columns were sent out on several occasions, of which various companies of the 74th formed a part.

In November 1867, orders had been received for the regiment to hold itself in readiness to proceed to New Brunswick; its destination was, however, changed about a month later, when it received orders to make ready to proceed to Gibraltar; the depot companies, consisting of 92 men, under Captain Thackeray and 3 subalterns, having, on January 27, 1868, sailed for Greenock in order to proceed to Fort-George, where it was to be stationed. The regiment sailed from Kingstown on February 2d, on board H.M. ship "Himalaya," for Gibraltar, where it arrived on February 7th, disembarked on the 8th, and encamped on the North Front until the 13th, when it was removed to the South Barracks.

The 74th remained at Gibraltar till February 1872, on the 17th of which month headquarters and four companies under Colonel Macleod sailed for Malta, where it arrived on the 22d. The left wing, under Major Jago, followed on the 7th of March, arriving at Malta on the 12th.


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